The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda bestows on Uganda a character of a free democratic society.
And it shores up institutions, which guarantee a democratic electoral process. We are a population of about 40 million, with only about 15 million registered voters –but usually about seven million voters turn out to cast their ballot for president and members of parliament.
The law and Constitution guarantee freedom of choice. In order for competing candidates to market their policies and persons, they ought to do consultations – preliminary meetings with likely voters intended to determine the suitability or electability of a candidate.
The Kyadando East Member of Parliament, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine, who is also the leader the People Power Movement, has already declared his intention to compete with President Yoweri Museveni in the 2021 presidential race.
He has therefore as required by the electoral laws, and laws governing public order management informed the Electoral Commission and Police about his intended consultation meetings. On Monday, Bob Wine’s inaugural consultative meeting in Kasangati was cancelled by police.
Kasangati District Police Commander, Edson Muhangi claimed, he cancelled the meeting because Bobi Wine had violated section 10 of the Public Order Management Act (POMA). Police also claimed the candidate had not fulfilled other conditions such as ensuring he has sniffer dogs, an ambulance, evacuation and rescue services, informing the local leaders and venue owners!
Unfortunately, in an effort to appear as if they are implementing the law to the letter, Police have miserably exposed themselves as partisan.
There are so many instances where the National Resistance Movement (NRM) politicians have flouted POMA, but their meetings have not been disrupted; police have chosen to play deaf and blind to such events. And this is particularly confusing given that the force is led by a career police officer, Okoth Martins Ochola who is well versed with global standards of policing.
During the reign of General Kale Kayihura, the police was clearly partisan and favoured NRM. The force could be excused because Gen. Kayihura was an NRM cadre and an army officer whose mandate might have been to ensure opposition blackout.
In a true democratic society, police should not elect to disrupt only meetings organized by political opponents of the president. Their concern should be keeping the peace. Police ought to change the way they disperse crowds. It is done in a fit of anger. It is difficult to fathom what piques police’s anger.
They disperse crowds by firing live bullets and tear gas canisters. They end up grievously harming people, even by standers. Why use lethal guns on unarmed crowds! Police ought to be reminded that The Human Rights (enforcement) Act places the liability of human rights abuse on the actual culprits and not the police force. So police ought to be agents of peace and not chaos.